Today’s Woman’s Feature is my sister friend Melissa!!! She has a beautiful heart inside and out and is passionate about helping families with disabilities. Melissa is a TRUE OVERCOMER and I am looking forward to the DO.LIVE.BE.MORE Women’s Conference in January.
1. You are currently working with individuals with disabilities; can you tell us more about your experience?
I have always wanted to work with individuals with disabilities and was always interested in the field of counseling. During my undergraduate studies, I was introduce to an Occupational Therapist who allowed me to shadow under her, as I wanted to earn volunteer hours for an Occupational Therapist program. Through this volunteer experience, I was able to meet many children who were diagnosed with various types of disabilities. I was able to observe how their families managed their little love ones’ disabilities and how some of these clients and parents who came into the facility were stressed and were in need of counseling. From that moment, I decided to put on hold my OT degree and pursue counseling in hopes to counsel individuals with disabilities and their love ones who are impacted by their illnesses. I found a great program at UMDNJ, (now goes by Rutgers, The State University) called Vocational Rehabilitation/Community Counseling, which will allow me to earn my Masters and teach me the skills needed for me to accomplish my goals.
2. Have you ever faced any difficulties in your life and what helped you to move forward?
Last year around this time, one of my uncles was diagnosed with Myeloma, which is a rare cancer of the blood. After finding out about his illness, I decide to move in with him and his wife in order for me to monitor him and take him to his chemotherapy appointments. In between taking care of him, dealing with some issues I had with some of my family members, and managing my life as a graduate student, I became extremely overwhelmed quickly. For about six months straight I was having difficulty sleeping, I had horrible migraine headaches, and worst of all, anxiety attacks. The anxiety attacks started off very mild at first and would happen to me at least twice a week, and then they increased with intensity and frequency. At one point, I can remember that I had it every day at least twice a day. I remember running to the bathroom during classes in tears, wondering why I couldn’t get my heart to stop palpitating. I remember calling my boyfriend and having him calm me down and help me to catch my breath. Other than him, I hardly told anyone about my frequent panic attacks even though for some, it was happening right in front of them and they did not even know it. I was very concerned with how others would view me, and also I was very prideful, which is why I kept it to myself. I wanted everyone to believe that I was fine and that I was a strong individual, while on the inside doubt, fear, and anxiety were blocking my lungs from breathing and were filling my mind.
What helped me to move forward was THE WORD! Instead of just praying for God to help me, I read the word of God and started to make note cards for me to carry around, throughout the day. Verses such as Philippians 4:6-7, Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5, and others were verses that I used to challenge the anxious thoughts and feelings. From that experience, I learned that sometimes your answers to your problems can come directly from His word. That semester, after getting my mind refocused on Christ I was able to earn all A’s in my classes and I have not had an anxiety attack ever since.
3. You are a praise dancer, any words of encouragement you can offer to others interested in praise dancing?
For me, praise dancing is my way of my body singing songs of praise and worship to God. If you’re interested in praise dancing l would encourage you to do the same. I would encourage you to not just dance, but REALLY sing with your body. You can only do this by not just dancing with your hands, feet, and legs, but by also dancing with your heart, the core of you. Make every move, a move that comes from the heart as you praise and worship our Heavenly Father. I also want to encourage those who may feel that they can not praise dance because of their lack of professional training or because their way or style of dancing is different from most praise dancers styles. I used to feel that way all the time and what I learned is that you do not need professional training nor should you compare your gift/talents to those of others. Allow the Potter to mold you and watch how He uses your praise, to not only get the glory, but edify others.
4. You are hosting a women’s conference in January 2014, can you tell us more about it?
THE DO.LIVE.BE More campaign is a 2-3 days young women’s campaign, which will assist all attendees to stay encourage, motivated, inspired, and most importantly, stay connected to other believers in the body of Christ. By linking Christian resources to young women, they’ll have information of what is taking place in their community through out the year, so they can DO, LIVE, and BE MORE in 2014. We have many different guest speakers who will talk about various topics such as relationships and dating, women’s health and wellness issues, building on faith, serving, and many more. We will have motivational speakers come out with empowering words of encourage to help us start our New Years off on the right foot. Plus many different giveaways and surprises as well. In addition to encouraging my sisters in Christ, the campaign will be raise money to help provide resources to homeless young women and their infants at a Sierra House, which is a non-profit organization committed to serving young women from at-risk populations located in East Orange, NJ. I would also love for these residents to attend and be inspired and encouraged, and find Christ if they do not already know Him. So this is one of those events you do not want to miss!
5. Where did the theme Do.Live.Be. More come from?
On December 12th, I will be turning 25! When I started planning this milestone celebration, back in September, I was able to reflect on my life as well as my relationship with Christ, thus far. In this moment of reflection I realized that I really need more of God. I have learned in my walk with Christ that if I want more of Him then I needed to do more. Things I felt I need to do more of was, fasting, praying, and seeking Him daily. I also realized that I need to live more. I needed to live healthier than how I was living last year and that needed to live my life as living sacrifice for God, more. In addition to doing, and living more for my future years to come, I realized that I need to be more! I need to be more kind to not just my love ones, but those who can be very difficult to love and be kind to, at times. I realized that I needed to be more productive in life and that I need to be all that God has called me to be. My first idea was to then celebrate my birthday with my sisters from church and encouraging them to do, live and be more in the future year to come. However, when I realized that there are also many other young women who have the desire to do, live, and be more in their lives and may not have the resources to achieve their goals, the idea came instantly!
6. What is your favorite verse?
One of favorite verse is Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed”-NIV. It helps to remind me with God all things are possible and that if I trust Him with everything, school, my relationship, and ministry, it will not fail!
Melissa may be contacted via Facebook at Melissa Desir or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to contact her about the DO.LIVE.BE.MORE women’s conference in January 2014 if you are interested in being a vendor, parterning with other organizations and/or being a guest speaker. Looking forward to seeing you lovely ladies there. XOXO